the original introduction

I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home. My family all loves Jesus. I have loved Jesus as long as I can remember. And I have always lived hard for him—willing to sacrifice, willing to do whatever.

But I’m a philosopher. A thinker who has sought truth and consistency as long back as I can remember. It’s how God made me. Simply embracing doctrines because that’s what we do has never worked for me—in fact, I practically lost my sanity trying to reconcile certain positions held by a former church of mine and the scripture upon which said positions were supposed to be based. And even still, I believe that God is reasonable and that whatever the truth of faith is, it won’t contradict the truth of science.

Not only am I an academic, I am also gay. And I have been as long as I’ve been sexually aware of having any preference. In my early 20s, I was in a deeply loving relationship that my church broke up—because it is a ‘sin’ for two women to be together. Upon the end of that relationship, I found myself jobless (I worked for her), homeless (I lived with her), and completely isolated (everyone else I knew thought our relationship was an abomination before God). I moved back to my parents, who, as soon as I exited the car to walk up to the house’s door, stood me aside and called me sickening and disgusting, and informed me that if I were ever to be in another such relationship, I’d be disowned.

I closeted, hard. And I buried myself between the covers of my books.

But everyone still knew. Five years later, I was active in my church in children’s ministry. A covey of women freaked out and went to the pastors in hysteria that a ‘violent tempered lesbian’ was in a position to pervert their children’s minds. They didn’t want me alone with their daughters. I had been working alongside these women for four years. And I was abruptly removed from ministry and put in a theologically safe place.

I was allowed to remain on the worship team. They liked how I sing. Then that faded, too. For the next ten years, no matter how many training programs I completed at my church, no matter how faithfully celibate I remained, no matter how mum I stayed about my orientation, I was always conveniently kept out of any leadership position, usually told that it would be better were I to marry. Of course, there were other women in leadership who weren’t married—but they weren’t gay.

So I went back to college, completing my bachelor’s and master’s in philosophy, simultaneously drawing closer to truth and being shoved away from it: the former from my growing awareness of God’s love and awesome creativity, the latter from my growing isolation as a closeted gay in a world where gays go to hell.

And so I came to a place of spiritual and emotional exhaustion. I have always loved Jesus. I have always felt a strong call to minister. And I didn’t know where else to go—this was my church home, my closest friends, my family.

I stopped attending. It was just too hard not to be allowed to exist externally, and to be gnawed at internally by doctrinal worries I had about a significant portion of what was being taught by these people with whom I had such a complicated relationship. I love them deeply. Many of them love me. Still, all of them think that if I embrace my homosexuality as God-given, I will have gone fully apostate. Some—my mom included—believe this is a guaranteed ticket to hell, if not full-on demon possession. I quit reading my Bible, which was my daily companion for 25 years.

I moved across the country in the pursuit of my doctorate in philosophy, and began a spiritual hibernation.

Or was it a metamorphosis?

Here it is four years later. A total of twenty years in the closet. And I can’t stay bound any longer. I’m out. And I’m out because I desperately need Jesus, and what has been barring me from him is my unwillingness to accept that God made me gay. Once I came out to God (as if that was any big surprise!), the weariness in me was completely removed. My passion for God revived powerfully, and I am filled with a longing to be with him again.

And I’m rethinking everything. Buried in scripture, theology, and philosophy, I’m relearning who this God is whom I serve and who loves me.

My friends back home think I’m making a horrible mistake, that I’ve abandoned God and sound doctrine. They have informed me that although they’ll always love me, we can no longer be in fellowship. They think this because it is, in their religious tradition (and mine) unacceptable to question anything—but God gave me a questioning mind. And they think this because it is even more unacceptable to be gay.

I won’t be moving back home.

It’s time to proceed in my walk with Christ, learning to live the abundant life according to the blueprint by which I was designed—an academic, a philosopher, an intellectual, a lesbian. I am created ad imaginem Dei, even as I am created gay.

This blog is designed as a forum for discussion about how one can reconcile intellect, homosexuality, and Christianity—a deep abiding love of Christ and longing to be a part of the kingdom of God, however I am called to participate.

7 thoughts on “the original introduction

  1. Eliz Anderson Post author

    Oh how I identify with your well written blog. “And I’m out because I desperately need Jesus, and what has been barring me from him is my unwillingness to accept that God made me gay.” Wow those could be my words. I too was raised in church (preachers kid) and gave Jesus my heart as a child. Yet I never understood How much He loves me or the grace of God until I came honestly to Him and brought my deepest fear because I just had to have Him no matter what. Love your site.
    Eliz

    Reply
  2. Martin Knight Post author

    I am so thankful for your honesty, bravery and integrity!

    The journey to reconcile homosexuality, intellect and Christianity is so hard – so joyful – so damaging – and yet so creative – I would not be on any other path because God has set me walking.

    It hurts me how damaging churches can be to the worlds children – damaging their image of themselves and of the world, and storing up therapy time for years to come!

    God calls us on and I can’t wait to read more!

    Pop in to my blog some time and share your thoughts!

    Thanks and God bless

    Martin XX

    Reply
  3. bridgeout Post author

    Wow, Bon, I am thrilled that I “bumped into” you at SisterFriends. I decided to click on your name, and here I am! Your story is heartbreaking… and yet also comforting to me because of similar type of journey I have traveled over the years.
    “reconcile intellect, homosexuality, and Christianity—a deep abiding love of Christ and longing to be a part of the kingdom of God”… this is what I want to do! For a sustained period of time–for good! I do for a while, and then words from my EX sting… and then individuals like Anita and you remind me that I am not far from God, just far from some human narrow view of what God accepts.
    Thank you!
    Wendy

    Reply
  4. Ace Post author

    I am not gay and while I understand that in a worldly sense there are some “complications” that would ensue simply because people can see your sin and drink deeply from the well of fear and ignorance but I do not find your particular sin any worse than mine. Quite frankly, since I can hide mine and go about my business without any repercussions, its probably worse, or at least my perception is that it is as I practice while you state you do not. I do find that a bit disingenuous as clearly you long for a relationship and surely a deep love would naturally blossom into intimacy although not an absolute but would likely put you in opposition to God’s word and he clearly states that to even look upon another woman lustfully is to commit adultery so you are screwed. Not saying that you should immediately fall into temptation, but its in the book right? I am not judging it sure you don’t need any more help in that dept and am sure you may well have contemplated this already. I am however troubled this keeps you from feeling loved or loving another. Love should not be hard to find in a christian walk, yet it is. It is painfully absent from the church and many dare I say most christians lives. Certainly the agape love that christians like to talk about but lack the ability to manifest.

    Well I too have been dismissed from ministry for making the mistake of confessing my sin and I have seen the hypocrisy when they immediately turned around and accepted services from me that benefited the church in a quieter way. I have tried to help and had friends turn against me so while you feel the sting of rejection you are not alone, not alone in your sin, not alone in your plight, not alone in a room with your clarinet playing a solo no one will hear.

    I do find it interesting and maybe even quzzical that you seem very intelligent but miss that you live in a fallen world and seemingly look to fallen men who attend fallen churches with their fallen wives and soon to be fallen children and to “overcome” their sin and love you when clearly they cannot or at best are handicapped to a terrible degree. Most are overcome by their own sin and with frightening consistency challenge your sin while hiding their own and often times are the last to accept, tolerate, embrace, let alone love. SR makes mention that her church would be different, I think not. Sure there would be a few who could offer that true love of christ but corporately…..no way.

    Am I bitter? Yes, Have I put aside the call to fellowship, to lift one another up to sharpen one another? Yes I have. I have been exhausted by those whose only call is to refresh and I am struggling just as you are to once again embrace this fallen and flawed family I am born into.

    But I say this, has God forsaken you? If you found love and companionship would God forsake you? If you lived and loved in open contention of God’s word only to beg forgiveness with your dying breath would he not throw open the gates of heaven and embrace you?

    You will never earn your place through works, nor will your heart ever release you from your God so play the music he has placed in front of you.

    Reply
  5. flayed Hypatia Post author

    Wow, Ace, thanks first for visiting my site and second for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

    You mention quite a few things that I find ask for a response. And Lord knows I’m not one to respond in any abridged fashion! So here’s a response to

    * how my “sin” compares to any other;
    * my chosen celibacy, as you understand it;
    * your perception of me failing to realize I live in a world marked by fear and ignorance; and
    * what seems to me as your perception of me as expecting too much from people.

    Before I go into answering these, I want to restate the function of this blog. I write here to work towards reconciliation, that is, this blog is a record of my journey. So my views might (probably will) change as time passes. For example, I’ve gotten to know SR much better and we’ve developed quite a close friendship that I foresee only getting closer.

    Also please know that I am a firm Platonist in at least this way: I believe education changes people. I believe that when we truly understand something, we are empowered to relate more effectively to that thing, or in that circumstance. I also believe that people are not static creatures, rather, are creatures that are always learning, thus always have the potential to be educated and changed. I’ve seen it in me (dramatically—it was only a couple years ago I was still clinging to the last remaining threads of my fundamentalist upbringing); I am seeing it in SR; and I see it in many of my friends and students.

    The function and purpose of this blog is then to educate and encourage the consequences of such. I learn by writing, by studying, by taking long chunks of time and dedicating them to dissecting and analyzing concepts, behaviors, and beliefs. And I have many friends and readers here who find they are educated by sharing my musings with me. So we’re here to learn together; but the very fact that that’s the point here implies that my views might change as I change.

    So far, however, I can’t think of much I’ve written on this blog that I would retract. Still, it’s not been a year that I’ve come out.

    To respond to you, now.

    I reject the notion that I am in sin (at least insofar as my orientation goes). And I strongly agree with you that one cannot separate something like one’s orientation from one’s behavior by externalizing the behavior. I write much on that here. In fact, it was the fact that I do think a lot, and could not reconcile this dogma with the reality of the existence of subconscious and unconscious activities driven by my orientation, activities over which I had little if any control, that began my journey to self-acceptance as a lesbian. The point is, if you believe that what one corporeally does defines who that person is, then it’s easy to make a division. But you are right in that Jesus’ point was to show that God looks not on the corporeal behavior—not on the outward appearance—but on the heart.

    And if one is lusting after a married woman, a woman to whom one is not married, (or if one is already married and lusting after any woman other than one’s wife) then one is committing adultery with her. Again, an example Jesus brings up to show that it isn’t the external that matters. In fact, this principle of looking to the heart is what compelled me to finally embrace that I am gay, because although I could do all sorts of things to keep the behavior at bay, and I was very good at never once ‘falling’ in all those 20 years, I still could not control how I felt in the morning after I woke up from a particularly vivid recurring dream. I would dream that I was married to somebody—no face, just a woman. And it wasn’t a sexual dream in the least. Just a partnership, intimacy, etc. And in my dream, we were sleeping together, but when I would wake up I’d be all alone. And I would wake up disappointed every morning after that dream. Disappointed for 20 years, but by golly, going to be an overcomer!

    Well, I’ve had many recurring dreams in my life. Each one has always been indicative of something I needed to deal with in my life, and when I dealt with it, the dream would never come back. And I would deal with that something by sitting down and thinking hard about that dream, dissecting it and figuring out what might be driving it. This one, however, I was trained to avoid altogether. Besides, unlike the other dreams, I really liked this one. It was so comforting, whereas all the others have been filled with fear. All this to say that I haven’t had that dream (alas) since I’ve come out.

    Now you compare my orientation and thinking to your anonymous sin. First, thank you for believing (as Jesus teaches) that no sin is any worse than any other. Truly, God looks on the heart. And truly, Jesus is far more concerned about gossip, anger, slander, and hypocrisy than many other things the fundamentalist movement today is obsessed with.

    But my orientation, and even when I am blessed with a relationship, my anticipated behavior, is not sin. I have listed quite a few resources on this blog that are by people who have carefully studied scripture, not to read out of it what they want to hear, but to discover what is truly there regarding homosexuality. You will find Jack Rodgers’ book, for example, to be one from somebody who spent much of his life touting the party line about homosexuality, only to find after a very long and careful study that the party line is not supported by the Bible. It is, rather, supported by a cultural bias much like that bias that endorsed millennia of slavery, jingoism, and the oppression of women. I am not going to argue for all that here, because you’ll find it all over my blog, all over Anita’s blog, and all over the pages of many books and websites I have recommended and / or linked to here.

    It is true that I chose celibacy for many years. And it is further true that I chose that because I believed my orientation was a sin, and that the best I could hope for was a sort of nun-like existence. And it is further true certain others in my fundamentalist church did not care about that and judged me nonetheless. I do not choose that celibacy now, primarily because now I have hope where I did not before. Now that I realize that I was taught to read the Bible incorrectly, and that many (though not all!) of the doctrines I held so tightly just aren’t in there, I see no reason to endorse the self-loathing and consequent “this is as good as I’ll ever get” mindset.

    I can dream again—and it doesn’t have to be restricted to my subconscious.

    I very much understand your anger, for when I first came out, I was, for a time, angry. For the first time, I saw clearly how I was being treated, how my years and years of trying to find the truth was so effectively quashed by dogmatic fears. And in fact, before that, many years ago, I found it exceptionally difficult to forgive (though eventually with God’s grace I did) the woman who was instrumental in booting me out of ministry. I’d say in this coming out period, I’ve gone through the following stages (thus far): January & February were a mix of exultant joy and hope alongside spasms of grief and regret with all I missed for so long and sadness at how my friends who had held me back for so long were not going to understand or accept this. Then came this awe as I came out to more and more people (not from my church back home) who knew all along and were rejoicing with me that I’d finally embraced the truth. Then freedom such as I’ve never felt before in my lifelong walk with God. I’ve read far more in these past few months as my relationship with Abba has intensified than perhaps I should, given I’ve been neglecting my dissertation for this. In April God directed me to an amazing local church, a group of people to whom I am out, and who believe I am called to minister. Since this calling in me has been so long neglected, I have been careful, holding onto it loosely, to follow that pathway. If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that a calling is to minister, but not necessarily to minister how the called expects. So I’m now in this stage of growth, at peace with who I am, excited to see who I’ll get to be, and learning to be a good steward of my time. In other words, I’m just being a human being, only, one who’s allowed to hope.

    I am not at all surprised that people in the church are ignorant and fearful. I am not ignorant of that. But note that this is not true of all people in the Church. It is, sadly, characteristic of fundamentalists (whether they call themselves that or not: I follow Armstrong’s, Borg’s, and Marsden’s—that is, the standard—definition of fundamentalism). If you are of the mindset that Christians are known by what they believe, rather than by their love as Jesus said, then you will easily draw lines. And it’s only a small step from “them and us” to “them vs. us”. I am a lay minister’s kid. The first (and ugliest) church split of the many I’ve endured happened when I was ten. My innocence about Christians, i.e., any belief that they were “good” people as opposed to non-Christians, dissipated then. People are people, often selfish, often fearful, often ignorant, often cruel.

    But I do not believe, as fundamentalism holds (according to the premillenial dispensationalism invented by Scoffield, Torrey, Riley, Dixon, et al. in the first decade of the 20th Century) that we should be pessimistic or nihilistic about people and the world. People are often selfish, fearful, ignorant, and cruel, yes, but they are just as often generous, trusting, understanding, and kind. I cannot believe that I am unique, that I am the only person who can turn away from the fearful nihilism of fundamentalism and embrace a trust in God that translates into a desire to live that love Jesus taught and so few dare to risk. I cannot believe this on the face of it, but even more, now as I’ve met so many people like me through this blog. And I cannot believe it as I have met so many amazing Christians who are truly Christ-like, despite the propaganda I was fed about “mainline churches” my lifetime in fundamentalism. There are many, many, many Christians who are truly free from the paranoia of annihilation, from the fear of a great “secular humanist” conspiracy to destroy the Church that is the cornerstone of fundamentalist culture. There are many Christians who believe that we are called to be in the world, to ‘occupy’ until Christ’s return, thus to love, minister, and be as Jesus was to his world. Called to and defined by love.

    I cannot believe that conversion is impossible. I cannot believe it because I have seen it in me and many others. And because I cannot believe this, because it is (logically) either the case that conversion is impossible or that it is possible, I must believe that conversion is possible. People can and do change. And I write this blog both as a testament of my change and in the hope that I can inspire some little bit of change in others. I am not ignorant of ignorance, but I believe in the power of understanding and the patience of God.

    Reply
  6. nakedpastor

    This page is incredibly moving. It makes me even more determined to understand what it means: we are all members of one another! Thanks for your transparency.

    Reply
  7. Shay

    What a joy to find not only a Christian, lesbian woman but one who thinks, thinks deeply and revels in that gift from God. I will be back often. Thank you for being an example of 3 of the strongest components that I’m made of.

    Reply

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